COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Community Development Work Program

 

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Revisions to current FY 07-08 Work Program

 

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Messrs. Tucker, Foley, Davis, and Graham

 

 

LEGAL REVIEW:  Yes

 

AGENDA DATE: 

February 6, 2008

 

 

        ACTION:     X                   INFORMATION:   

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

        ACTION:                          INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:   Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

BACKGROUND:

The purpose of this work session is to seek Board agreement on revisions to Community Development’s work program for the remainder of FY 07-08 and to establish priorities for the FY08-09 work program.  Since the current work program was approved last June, it has become apparent a change to the approved work program is required due to changes in available staff resources and Board member requests to consider revised priorities.   

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Goal 2: Protect the County's Natural, Scenic and Historic Resources

Goal 4:  Effectively Manage the County’s Growth and Development.

 

DISCUSSION:

In June 2007, the Board approved a Community Development Work Program for FY 07-08 (Attachment A)  Since then, a cash proffer policy, affordable housing ordinance amendment, and a sustainable development (green building) amendment to the Comprehensive Plan have all been completed.  Other initiatives that have not been completed as planned for various reasons include the ordinance amendments in support of Rural Areas Policy and implementation of agriculture support position.  Recent changes in the revenue forecasts have resulted in three planner positions being frozen, in addition to 4 other positions in the department, removing resources that would otherwise have been available for the work program.  It is important to note that the work program initiatives typically use the remaining resources after work on applications is completed.  Currently, while the number of building permits has dropped and the size of projects under review is smaller than last year, there has not been a significant reduction in the number of applications reviewed by planner or the planner’s time spent on those applications.  It is important to note that the department’s four priority vacancies to fill, two inspectors and two planners, are considered “core” positions and at this time, are 4 of the top 5 positions on the Countywide list of frozen positions to be filled when other vacancies considered “enhanced” occur.  Staff is hopeful that as a result of this prioritization and review, these positions will be filled through the current process for frozen positions over the next several months.  Community Development has currently ranked the two inspectors over the two planners as the highest priority to meet basic functions.         

 

Staff has evaluated the current situation with respect to the work program and currently available resources and, based on that evaluation, is recommending resources be allocated towards the Board’s Strategic Plan priorities.  This would include completion of a draft Places 29 master plan, continuation of work on a Village of Rivanna master plan, completion of the Country Stores strategy from the Rural Areas Plan, and updating the Utilities section of the Comprehensive Plan to accommodate RWSA’s Water Supply Plan.  Beyond this, staff plans to complete work on the Crozet Downtown District and one part of the Neighborhood Model zoning changes this year. Assuming the current review workload and resources are maintained, the above work is probably the limit of what staff can accomplish the remainder of this fiscal year unless frozen positions are filled through the process discussed above.  While it appears necessary to postpone work on the remainder of the current work program, staff would pick up additional work program initiatives as time permits and prioritize those issues based

on the relative ease with which the change could be accomplished.  To help the Board understand this revised work program, a new schedule has been provided as Attachment B.       

  

With respect to next year’s work program, staff believes next year’s priorities should also focus on the Board’s Strategic Plan, with other initiatives being undertaken as workload allows or positions are filled.  That translates into the following priorities:

  1. Completion of the Places 29 master plan and begin implementation as resources become available.
  2. Completion of the Rivanna Village master plan and begin implementation as resources become available.
  3. Kickoff of the Southern Urban Areas master plan upon approval of the Places 29 master plan.
  4. Rural Area policy strategies as recommended by the Board.
  5. All remaining initiatives considered on a resource available basis.  

 

Staff has previously stated that an additional planner would be necessary at the point Places 29 begins implementation.  Assuming the workload associated with applications remains at the current level, staff believes the following options exist to accelerate other work plan items, 1) “thaw” the currently frozen planner positions, or 2) postpone starting the next master plan.  That decision can be made at the same time as the Board considers the Places 29 master plan later this year.  It should be noted that filling the frozen planner positions would return staff to last year’s approved staffing level rather than add an additional planner as previously discussed with the work program.   As such, staff’s ability to undertake many of the other postponed work initiatives will remain a challenge.

 

Finally, staff notes that revised application and permit fees can allow the County to accelerate filling the planner positions without sacrificing other services or increasing tax support.  As discussed with the Community Development fee study, it is possible to significantly increase revenues associated with fees Community Develop collects. While the work program efforts can not specifically be funded by fees, revised fees could reduce the tax support for other functions, such as erosion control permits and road inspections. This would allow the tax support for those programs to be shifted to the planner positions and allow the County to reduce the total number of frozen positions.  Staff plans to discuss revised fee recommendations with the Board for building permits and the Water Protection Ordinance at an April work session.  At that same work session, staff plans to provide information on possibly privatizing certain operations, such as road inspections and plan reviews, which could also reduce the needed tax support by the department.   

 

BUDGET IMPACT:

Staff’s has provided a revised work program for the remainder of the current fiscal year which anticipates no changes in the budget and anticipates no changes in resources available for the work program. Next year’s work program will be drafted based on the anticipated review workload and available resources, including the latest information on the status of frozen position that may be filled depending on County-wide vacancies.   As discussed above, it is also possible to increase revenues through fee changes and utilize this additional revenue to fund currently vacant positions.  This would allow the FY 08-09 work program to be expanded.   Assuming this approach is acceptable to the Board, it will be included in the April work session on fees and staff will propose expanding the FY 08-09 work program using the additional fee revenue.             

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

1.       Staff recommends the Board accept Community Development’s revised work program as shown in Attachment B for the remainder of FY 07-08.  Even if the decision is made today to fill the frozen positions, it will require 3-6 months to have those resources in place and trained.  Thus, it will be the start of FY 08-09 at the earliest before the benefit of those positions can be felt.     

2.       Staff recommends using the discussed priorities above as a basis for establishing the FY 08-09 work program. Basically, this sets the priorities in the following order:

a.       Completion of master plans

b.       Implementation of master plans

c.       Rural Area strategies

d.       Other initiatives, such as lighting ordinance or enhanced erosion and sediment control ordinance.  

If the Board desires any changes to this priority, staff requests the Board advise them of the order and this will be used in developing the FY 08-09 work program.

3.       Staff requests the Board advise whether or not revised fees are considered an acceptable way to accelerate the funding of frozen positions.   Assuming this is acceptable, analysis of this opportunity will be included in the planned April work session on fees and those resource assumptions can be built into the FY 08-09 work program.      

 

ATTACHMENTS

Attachment A - Approved Work Plan, June 2007

Attachment B – Recommended Work Plan, January 2008

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